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Holidays in Samoa

Understanding Samoa

Samoa is composed largely of two islands, Upolu and Savai'i These islands are the result of countless volcanic eruptions, leaving easily visible volcanic cones all over both islands None of the volcanoes are currently active, but small earthquakes often rock the island, reminding people of their presence The last eruption was in 1911 on Savaii

The eerie, lifeless lava fields that remain from this event can be visited easily, since the only sealed road on Savai'i goes right through the middle

Both islands are almost entirely covered by lush vegetation, although almost none of it is the original rainforest that covered the island before humans arrived Most of the land area is given over to plantations or semi-cultivated forest, providing food and cash crops for the locals Since Samoa has been inhabited for over three and a half thousand years, the cultivated lands around villages can often seem like deepest, darkest jungle to a foreignerpalangi


The climate is tropical with a rainy and tropical cyclone season from October to March and a dry season from May to October It has an average annual temperature of 265°C This makes it a suitable winter vacation destination for southern hemisphere countries


New Zealand occupied the German protectorate of Western Samoa at the outbreak of World War I in 1914 It continued to administer the islands as a mandate and then as a trust territory until 1962, when the islands became the first Polynesian nation to reestablish independence in the 20th century The country dropped the "Western" from its name in 1997

National holiday : Independence Day Celebration, 1 June

The 19th season of Survivor was filmed on the island of Upolu in mid 2009 The 20th season will also be filmed in Samoa, the location is still unknown


Samoa is a Republic governed by an elected council, or fono

Local government is by village in the form of a Matai, or chief

The legal system is based on English common law and local customs


The economy of Samoa has traditionally been dependent on development aid, family remittances from overseas, and agricultural exports The country is vulnerable to tropical storms, and was hit by two cyclones in quick succession in 1991

Agriculture employs two-thirds of the labor force, and furnishes 90% of exports, featuring coconut cream, coconut oil, and copra The manufacturing sector mainly processes agricultural products

The decline of fish stocks in the area is a continuing problem, due to both local overfishing and severe overfishing by Japanese factory trawlers Tourism is an expanding sector, accounting for 16% of GDP; about 85,000 tourists visited the islands in 2000

The Samoan Government has called for deregulation of the financial sector, encouragement of investment, and continued fiscal discipline Observers point to the flexibility of the labor market as a basic strength for future economic advances Foreign reserves are in a relatively healthy state, foreign debt is stable, and inflation is low

Talking in Samoa

Languages spoken include Samoan a Polynesian language and English

What to see in Samoa

  • Palolo Deep Marine Reserve Vaiala Beach, Apia $3 USD The only beach in Apia to the East of the harbour Not really much a beach, though, it's mostly coral gravel It's an official underwater park The snorkelling initially seems pretty poor but if you venture further out probably a good quarter mile swim it gets a bit more interesting with the occasional turtle and black tip reef shark Ask at the entrance where to swim - there's a marker post that helps If you are stuck in Apia it's not a bad way to kill a few hours or just hang out at the "beach" You can rent snorkels here although seriously bring your own Also check the tide chart at the gate before you pay, at low tide there is a long paddle out over very sharp coral to get anywhere deep enough to snorkel

What to do in Samoa

  • Vailima Brewery Tour Vailima, Upolu 10 minute drive west of Apia 685 20 200 vailima@vailimaws Free http://wwwvailimaws/Make reservations because tours are only given on certain days
  • Aggie Grey's ''Fia Fia'' Aggie Grey's Hotel 685 22880 http://www1aggiegreyscom/aggiegreys/hotel/pop_entertainmenthtm Every Wednesday evening aggiegreys@aggiegreysws This is a must-see Traditional Samoan dancing, singing, drumming, and the amazing fire-knife dance! ''Fia fia'' literally means "happy," although it really means "party hardy" As long as you're there you might as well splurge on Aggie's buffet dinner, which is very good This isn't the only ''fia fia'' in Samoa, but it is the best
  • Penina Golf Club Penina Golf Club http://wwwpeninaresortandgolfclubcom 685 770 4653 golfpenina@samoaws http://wwwpeninaresortandgolfclubcomThe Penina is a new 18 hole par 72 championship course located adjacent to the Aggie Grey resort The course features all modern conveniences: driving range, new Club Car golf carts, new Cobra rental clubs right and left handed men’s and women’s, toilet facilities on the course, and snacks on the course

Buying stuff in Samoa

  • Currency : Tala WST

Local laws make it illegal to trade in Samoa in a foreign currency

Samoa is relatively inexpensive for western visitors Haggling is not customary

  • Apia Public Market Great place to buy Siapo tapas cloth, 'ava kava, hand carved kava bowls, produce, donuts, etc
  • Apia Flea Market In the 'old' public market building

Food and eating in Samoa

The usual kinds of European, Asian and fast foods are available, but be sure to try the "umu", which is a traditional pit-oven, using red hot lava stones heated by charcoal Whole pigs, fruits, chickens, fish, etc, are placed among the rocks for many hours, and covered with banana leaves The food has an absolutely delicious smoked flavour, and meats are as tender and juicy as possible

Most places are casual and inexpensive

  • Apia Yacht Club On the peninsula on the west side of the city Take a taxi, it's quite a walk Great waterfront dining Expat hangout Despite the name, it's totally a flip-flops and t-shirt type joint
  • Rainforest Cafe Central Apia near the police station Good food, good price

Drinking in Samoa

Samoa brews the amazing Vailima 3 beer Even Germans say it's good beer, probably because the brewery was founded by a German It's cheap and you can buy it everywhere

Non-alchoholic beverages and bottled water are available in all roadside stores Coke, Fanta and Sprite are available in 750 ml glass bottles for about 4 T You will need a bottle opener for these if you want to take them with you to drink later, otherwise stores will have a bottle opener available Bottled water is available in a range of sizes

Liquor is plentiful in the bars There's not that much in most stores and it tends to be expensive Le Well near the market ask any taxi driver has a good range at the best prices It's a good idea to bring your own bottle in if you plan on drinking a lot of hooch The cheapest liquor is generally vodka in large 175 L plastic bottles This may be bought from supermarkets and bottleshops and is also available in smaller 750 ml bottles for about 25 T Imported liquor such as New Zealand wine is generally very expensive

Unfortunately the government shut down most of the popular and legendary bars and night spots in Apia in 2006, citing underage drinking, drugs, noise, and crime They were reopened several weeks later There are lots of smaller bars and night spots to check out Also every hotel has a bar as do most of the restaurants

  • The Hot and Spicy Near Aggie Grey's Bar, music Interior is in good shape

Accommodation in Samoa


  • Aggie Grey's Hotel & Bungalows Not to be confused with the new Aggie Grey's Resort Downtown Apia On the main drag, can't miss it 685 22880 aggiegreys@aggiegreysws 685 23626 Starts around $130 US http://www1aggiegreyscom/aggiegreys/hotel/aggieshtmThe most upscale hotel in Apia Aggie Greys started as a hamburger stand for allied GIs during WWII and has become something of a legend Nice pool, several bars The Fiafia is an must-see It's not a good place for budget travelers The staff can be a little bit ornery although not outright rude It's definitely worth spending one night here just for the history behind it Spring for a garden bungalo, they are way cool
  • Seaside Inn Downtown Apia 685 22578 seasideinn@ipasifikanet 685 22918 Includes free http://wwwsamoahotelsws/seasideinnhtmExcellent choice for budget travelers Short walk to downtown Deck with a bar and a bit of a view Serves food Kitchen, laundry, and internet access Short walk to under water preserve Best deal in Apia

  • Samoan Outrigger Hotel Downtown Apia, near the hospital 685 20042 $16 for a fale to $40 for single occupancy rooms Outrigger@samoaws A prime choice for medical students doing their electives at the local hospital Run by a Danish bloke and his Samoan wife Clean and friendly with a pool and beautiful gardens Option of staying in a traditional fale very economical or air conditioned rooms Discounts can sometimes be negotiated for longer stays during medical electives, etc

Elsewhere on Upolu

  • Taufua Beach Fales Lalomanu, Upolu Take the cross island rd or the shore rd, it's about the same either way ++685 41051 reservations@taufuabeachfalesws ++685 41347 http://wwwsamoabeachfalescom/e_indexhtmArguably the best place to stay on Upolu with the best beach on the island The reef inside the lagoon was badly damaged by the Sept 2009 tsunami There are still heaps of beautiful fish but the reef itself is stark and has no color Also, as a result of the tsunami when snorkeling you will see pieces of lino, clothes, building debris, etc which are a very sad and heartwrentching reminder of what the people have been through There is a dive shop on premises that can also organize snorkeling and surfing trips The fales are basic but in good shape and are right on the beach It's social but also quiet except for the constant pounding of the surf out on the reef Meals are served long table style and are a mix of western, eastern, and traditional Samoan food Bar on premises Internet access available Bodega 5 minute walk away for beer and basic food There's a couple other places to eat and drink on this beach if you feel like some variety but there's nothing fancy Take the cross island road and check out Goldfish Lake on the way
  • Virgin Cove Resort Saanapu, Upolu take the cross island rd and turn right in Siumu or the Aleisa Rd, it is about the same either way ++685 27085 reservation@virgin-covews 3PM 10AM http://wwwvirgin-covewsBack to nature style resort with the most beautiful beach on the Island Stay in a beach fales or a bungalow Restaurant and bar available

Elsewhere altogether

  • Namua Beach Fales Namu'a Island 70 tala per per night as at July '05 Includes meals and launch transfer This place should definitely be included in your itinerary
  • Sunset View Fales Lepuia'I Village, Manono Island 45640 http://wwwsamoasunsetviewcom/ 90 tala per night as at July '05 Tranquil Manono island - no vehicles - no roads - no dogs Free launch transfer from 'Upolu All meals included Boat trips to reef Outrigger canoe 5 fales on the waters edge Samoan family environment Ferry wharf phone: 46177
  • Utusou Beach Fales Falealupo-tai, Savai'i just south of Tanumatius Beach Fales 50 WST per night including meals 2 fales on beautiful secluded beach Run by Tafa & Salia Seumanutata and their family who really look after you and if you're lucky tell some excellent stories

Cities in Samoa

afega  amaile  aopo  apia  asaga  auala  aufaga  avao  avata  eva  fagafau  fagamalo  faiaai  falealupo  faleapuna  faleatiu  falefa  falelima  faleolo  faleula  falevai  falevao  fasitoouta  fatuvalu  fausaga  fogasavaii  fogatuli  fusi  gataivai  gautavai  iliili  lalomalava  lalomanu  lalomauga  lalovi  lano  leagiagi  lelepa  lepa  letogo  letui  leulumoega  leusoalii  levi  lona  lotofaga  lufilufi  maasina  malie  malua  manase  maninoa  manunu  matanofo  matatufu  matautu  mulivai  musumusu  mutiatele  nefunefu  niusuatia  nofoalii  paia  papa  patamea  pata  piu  poutasi  puleia  saaga  saasaai  safotu  sagone  saina  saipipi  salani  saleaaumua  saleaula  saleia  saleilua  salelesi  salesatele  saletele  salimu  samalaeulu  samamea  samatau  samauga  samea  samusu  sapapalii  sapulu  sapunaoa  sasina  satalo  satapuala  sataua  satitoa  satoalepai  satuiatua  sauniatu  savaia  sili  siuniu  siupapa  siusega  siutu  solosolo  taelefaga  tafagamanu  tafatafa  tafitoala  tafua  taga  tapueleele  toamua  tuasivi  tufulele  tufutafoe  uafato  ulutogia  utufaalalafa  utulaelae  utuloa  vaiala  vaiee  vaigaga  vaigalu  vailoa  vaipouli  vaipua  vaisala  vaitele  vaiusu  vaotupua  vaovai  vavau  

What do you think about Samoa?

How expensive is Samoa?
(1 WST = 0 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant22.14 WST
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)121.44 WST
McDonalds meal16.45 WST
Local beer (0.5 draft)6.09 WST
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 8.82 WST
Cappuccino10.36 WST
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)5 WST
Water (0.33 bottle)2.5 WST
Milk (1l)5.08 WST
Fresh bread (500g)2.34 WST
White Rice (1kg)3.31 WST
Eggs (12) 6.18 WST
Local Cheese (1kg) 19.8 WST
Chicken Breast (1kg) 5.38 WST
Apples (1kg) 14.86 WST
Oranges (1kg) 12.77 WST
Tomato (1kg) 16.23 WST
Potato (1kg) 6.34 WST
Lettuce (1 head) 8.5 WST
Water (1.5l)3.92 WST
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 30.88 WST
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)5.46 WST
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 8.83 WST
Cigarettes10.35 WST
One way local bus ticket1.46 WST
Taxi start2.94 WST
Taxi 1km0.97 WST
Utilities for a "normal" apartment292.76 WST, your travel companion

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